I take Phil’s point that a show as partisan as Hugh Hewitt’s might not be the best place for Gen. Petraeus to be doing an interview, but if you read the transcript (which you should) I think you’ll agree that Petraeus, while cautiously optimistic, is very restrained about declaring victory prematurely (it’s actually funny at times the way he resists as Hewitt tries to push him toward triumphalism). This contrasts notably with some of his predecessors. Even if the surge doesn’t stabilize Iraq in the long run, it’s going to be hard to look back and not think that things would have gone much better in Iraq if someone as impressive as Petraeus were in charge from the beginning. (The blame, of course, falls on President Bush, who has been loyal to his generals even when they clearly weren’t delivering.)
Petraeus, incidentally, doesn’t seem to think the branch of al Qaeda that’s in Iran is particularly close to the regime, going so far as to say that “we believe, in fact, that Iran may have actually taken some steps against them as well. They’re not sitting there at the invitation of Iran, but it’s a very, very rugged area, and a fairly substantial area as well.” Given the reputedly spotty read that our intelligence community has on the Islamic Republic, who knows.
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